Somewhat lost in the Paul George-Los Angeles Lakers-Indiana Pacers triangle is the fact that Tinseltown has a draft pick to use this week.
The Lakers aren’t giving up the second overall selection in any George deal, so the question of whether to choose Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson lives on. As of now, the favorite appears to be Ball, but the Lakers are far from decided, despite team president Magic Johnson lusting after the former, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge:
The Lakers, according to a source with knowledge of their thinking, will likely go up until the Draft before deciding on which player to take, with Johnson still looking longingly at Ball but listening to others in the Lakers’ war room who are arguing for Jackson.
This is suddenly an even tougher decision with George telling the Pacers he’s gone after this year. If the Lakers plan on moving forward with this exact core, Jackson is the best fit. If the plan is to add George via free agency next summer, Ball becomes more intriguing.
Playing George, Jackson and Brandon Ingram in the same rotation is a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem. Ball, in theory, can at least play off D’Angelo Russell full-time, whereas slotting Jackson, George or Ingram on shooting guards isn’t as appealing. Drafting Ball also allows the Lakers to move Russell in a trade for George, if it comes to that, or another star.
So yes, this draft-day dilemma is real. And, as Aldridge notes, the Lakers probably won’t reach a consensus resolution until they know where George is going or whether they’ll need to trade him now.